It’s hard to believe I’ve been running this blog for almost seven years. That’s the longest I’ve ever stuck with any of my creative projects. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that nothing lasts forever. And so it is that effective today, I’m shutting down IG for good.
Early last year, I discovered Psalm 88, an offshoot of Berkeley, CA-based cassette label Acephale Winter Productions. While all of the sub-label’s initial batch of wares were impressive in their own right, the one that impressed me the most was Behold Darkness’ I, a gripping nineteen minutes of frozen-soul black metal that was easily the most complete sounding of the four releases reviewed. Indeed, it was a recording I found myself continuing to revisit on the regular, which is really saying something when one considers how often I burn out on the music I choose to review due to the sheer number of repeat listens involved.
I damn near passed on checking out Serial Butcher. On the surface, everything about the band’s second album Brute Force Lobotomy, from the title to the cover art, screams run-of-the-mill brutal death metal. But if there’s one thing that listening to metal for all these years has taught me, it’s that the old cliche about not judging a book by its cover is usually true, and such is the case with Serial Butcher. Indeed, the Belgians play brutal death metal, but their sound is anything but ordinary.
Back in 2012, Jacksonville’s Cystic Dysentery released Culture of Death, one of my favorite under-the-radar brutal death metal albums of the last five years. Indeed, the band’s debut displays their oldschool Floridian influences (think Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, etc) while at the same time upping the heaviness factor considerably by mixing in some seriously gnarly Suffocation vibes, twisting those inspirations into a singular BDM assault. After four long years of silence, Cystic Dysentery are finally ready release a follow-up, the long-awaited Homicidal Suicide.
Hailing from the same fertile scene that produced the likes of Entombed and Dismember, the terrific twosome known as Comecon have somehow been relegated to being little more than a footnote in the history of Swedish death metal in spite of being one of the most oddball bands to be belched forth from the unholy bowels of Stockholm. No less than Daniel Ekeroth wrote the band off as “boring” in his ten ton tome Swedish Death Metal, but in surveying their discography I can’t help but wonder if he and I listened to the same band.
It’s been a long time coming. As of October I’ll have been doing the metal blog thang for the better part of six years, with five hundred and eighteen posts published; that averages out to roughly eighty-six posts a year. I’ve grumbled about it turning into a chore from time to time, but somehow I’ve always managed to power through and rekindle my enthusiasm at the zero hour. I can’t say exactly when I hit the proverbial wall, but at some point this year it finally happened, which explains why IG has been kind of limping along for some time now. As such, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to take a break and let the batteries recharge… sort of.
I say “sort of” because I do have some remaining commitments to honor and as a man of my word I have every intention of honoring them. Labels, if you’ve sent me something in the mail recently or we’ve talked online about a review, you can expect a write-up; I just can’t guarantee how timely they’re going to be. I also have one last interview I’m working on that I’m actually pretty darn psyched about. Additionally, I do intend on getting down with some year end list shenanigans when the time comes.
Once those few things have been posted, IG will go into cryosleep, for how long is anyone’s guess. I’ll also be going (mostly) dark on social media during that time. To reiterate, this hiatus is only temporary; I’ve said many times that IG will still be here when the dust settles and that I’m in this until I’m in the ground, and that remains true. IG will return stronger than ever, but in order to regain that strength I need some time away to recharge and refocus.
Thanks to everyone who’s read the blog on the regular, shared my posts on social media, sent me stuff to review, talked shit about me publicly (any publicity is good publicity), or supported IG (and its previous incarnation THKD) in any way! You’re the reason I’m here to stay.
In early 2014, New Jersey-based black metal band Hercyn sent me a copy of their debut release, the excellent Magda. To say that I was blown away by the twenty-four minute, single track demo would be an understatement; this was the kind of gloomy, neo folk-tinged black metal I had been yearning for more of ever since Agalloch released their classic The Mantle back in 2002. A subsequent split with Thera Roya spoke to the band’s dedication to continuing to refine their sound, but it also left me wanting more. Fortunately I don’t have to wait any longer, as Hercyn are about to release Dust and Ages. Indeed, the band’s first full length makes good on the promise of the their previous shorter releases, delivering a pair of epic tracks (plus an intro and outro) that are easily the band’s most accomplished and fully-realized works to date. Curious to know more about the band’s inner workings and the creation of Dust and Ages, I sent the band a slew of questions which they graciously answered in great depth via e-mail.
Like any good metalhead, I try to keep track of all the shows happening in my neck of the woods, even though I can only make it to a fraction of them. This is how Belgium’s Goat Torment popped up on my metal radar. Turns out the band will be tormenting Sacramento as part of a handful of West Coast dates in conjunction with their appearance at California Deathfest in Oakland (no, I will not be in attendance), which is right around the corner.
Every few years, Candlelight Records releases a really cool black metal album and then does jack shit to promote it. Back in 2013, it was Throne of Katarsis’ The Three Transcendental Keys. This year it’s Chaos Magick, the second full length from Finland’s Saturnian Mist.
This past weekend, my wife and I ventured down to Anaheim to get our Disneyland fix. But the magic kingdom wasn’t the only destination on our agenda; Mrs. IG built some time into our busy itinerary to make a stop at the mighty Dark Realm Records. For those unfamiliar, Dark Realm is the Los Angeles area’s only all-metal record store and is run by brothers Rick and Bay Cortez of the legendary Sadistic Intent. I first visited the shop roughly six years ago and was blown away by the selection of CDs, shirts and various other heavy metal goodies, so I couldn’t wait to finally make my second pilgrimage.